Mental Health Resources
By William “Bryan” Hillier
One of the most important resources that UTHealth Houston employees may not be aware of is the UTHealth Employee Assistance Program (EAP). Employees in need can contact the EAP for a consultation and referral for a wide range of work-life concerns but specifically for help with mental health and counseling. When you call EAP, you can speak directly with one of the licensed counselors who will take the time to fully understand your concerns and explore care options with you. These options may include individual, couples, or family counseling, in addition to support groups.
Individuals seeking assistance may receive five counseling sessions at no cost to you for each new concern they wish to address. This resource is available to you as an employee, your spouse, live-in partner, and eligible dependents. This includes children up to the age of 26 who are enrolled in coverage under your UTHealth insurance plan. Additionally, it is important to note that all EAP services are private, not a part of your employment record and completely confidential for you and your eligible family members. UTEAP will not release any information regarding your contact with the EAP without your written consent or as required by law. In addition to counseling services, EAP offers two support groups: The Employee Caregiver Support Group and the Grief Support Group, both of which meet monthly via WebEx.
EAP also subscribes to and hosts a website with multitudes of health and work-life wellness resources. It is called My Life Values.
A separate, and very valuable website, is the main EAP site, offering a variety of health, wellness, and stress reduction resources. Many of these services have been moved online due to COVID-19. For example, meditation and the practice of mindfulness is available via virtual meeting rooms Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at varying times. The sessions include a 15-minute meditation session and are designed to be a mental health break during the day.
Counseling and meditation are excellent ways to address your mental health needs, but there are other important avenues for improving mental well-being, including physical and financial wellness. Visit the EAP website to learn more about these options. You may also want EAP’s resources created specifically for coping with emotional health in the time of COVID-19.
If you prefer a resource not offered through UTHealth but by a UCSC colleague, you may wish to check-out is Project Happiness which is a non-profit organization created to help young people and families with depression and anxiety. Project Happiness has a service that will send short positive daily messages with a paragraph or two of background information to your inbox. There are also resources available on the Project Happiness website. (Please note: Project Happiness is not recommended or endorsed by UTHealth).
The World Health Organization has named depression as the greatest cause of suffering worldwide. In the U.S., one out of five individuals are affected by depression or anxiety. For youth, this number increases to one in three. The good news is that 40% of our happiness can be influenced by intentional thoughts and actions, leading to life changing habits. It's this 40% that Project Happiness Programs strive to impact. (Source: Project Happiness website).
“Anxiety happens when you think you have to figure out everything all at once. Breathe. You are strong. You’ve got this. Take it day by day.” (Source: Project happiness message for the day.)
UCSC wants you to know that there are resources available to help! For more information about UTHealth Employee Assistance Programs call 713.500.3327.